Dance Moms Season 5 episode 20 recap: Return of the Mack (Oh My God!)

dance-moms-mackenzie-wins Lori Acken

Man, Tuesdays come around fast, don’t they Dance Moms nation? But we ended last week on a win, so maybe this week will finally be California sunshiney for a change? Yes? No.

We don’t even make it into 3rd Street Dance before we’re comparing Abby to a big ol’ baby who doesn’t handle transition well. Well, I suppose. If the bootie fits. But anyway.

And furthering my theory that Abby is a wily hostage of the DM producers and is going to make them pay but good for that, when Jill expresses surprise that she’s actually in the studio when they do go on inside, Abby doesn’t look up from her phone. “Well,” she shrugs, “I have to do pyramid.”


What’cha watchin’, Jill wants to know. The group dance, says Abby. YAY! Oh. Not yay.

What Abby sees when she watches the winning dance is that when Maddie leads a dance, it’s all eyes on her. When Nia does, it’s just … meh. Yeah, but it won. Because maybe the whole freakin’ group got to shine. Which is how a group dance is supposed to go. But what do I know?

In a moment that does not feel staged AT ALL, Nia confidently tells her teacher that if she had more opportunities, maybe she would be better at taking the lead. You’ve got ’em, kid. Just not here.

Also, I am calling this week’s recap Dance Moms Gets a Lobotomy, because on my screener, the tops of everyone’s heads are chopped off — and sometimes not there at all.





Speaking of which — pyramid time. Even though she led the winning group dance that was designed (and named) to shame her, Nia is bottom of the bottom. Solo was fifth. Abby thinks it should have won. Uh. Dude. No. No matter what you saw on your phone.

Next is JoJo because, as commenter Kei so accurately pointed out last week, she too must exit from the Bad People side of the stage. Oh, and also she was late on the video tape.

Next is Maddie. Maddie didn’t stand out in the group dance either. No one did, Abby. Or, more aptly, they all did. And it won.

Last in Row 2 is Mack. Took a correction. Good for you.
Then Kendall. She didn’t dance (Abby’s fault), but her video premiered, so that’s good enough for second place.

Top of the pyramid belongs to Kalani. Abby calls her out for not remembering her dance — a crime punishable by death in some instances — but, you know, she looked good and she won and she’s not Nia, so Kalani for the win.

Before Abby can map out the plans for the week, half of Jill’s head would just like to mention that they have a family commitment this weekend, so no performance for Kendall. Abby shrugs. It’s the best Abby can muster these days.

Mack gets a solo called Sink or Swim.

Because she will be competing against her big sister. Who will be doing her specialty, which is Sia videos tapping. Aw! Maddie looks like she misses tapping.
JoJo gets a solo, too. Called Rebel Without a Cause. Good one, Abby.

Oh, and all three solos will be competing against each other.



This week we’re having a guest choreographer who has three MTV Video Awards and has worked with Lady Gaga, J.Lo, and best of all — Michael Jackson for over 20 years!

Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Avis Paynf!


That’s Travis Payne on your screen, and here’s his actual cred. It’s impressive. What are you doing here, Avis Paynf?

Here is all of Travis Payne. I am pretty sure I love him.

Travis worked on This Is It, Michael’s final project before he died — what ARE you doing here, dude?! — but he says he’s happy to be here working with tomorrow’s superstars and he looks like he means it, so win. Tomorrow’s Superstars will be doing a dance reminiscent of the dance styles of the ’80s. It’s called Beautiful Bizarre and Abby says it better win, because if it doesn’t, it certainly isn’t Travis’ fault.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sha Francis! Well, most of her.


On your screen, she’s Aisha Francis, Avis Paynf’s assistant, and she’s worked with Beyoncé.

In the Mom Closet, we’re all happy to have some fresh energy and to see the girls having some fun. Now to see if Abby can make good on her promise to sit back and hush. She can’t. Mack’s out as the centerpiece of the dance and Maddie is in. Abby’s work here is done. Well, maybe.

Why, I do declare, Mizz Abby is wearin’ a fall! (That would be a weave to you young’uns. Back in the day, they called them a fall, I swear.)


An unruly one at that.


Excuse me, Miss Abby, but we have comp’ny here in the parlor and perhaps detaching and reattaching part of your head is not quite what a lady would do.

Also, cover your mouth.


Take that, Jeff Collins. Love, Abby.

Maddie’s solo is a called You Go-Go Girl and I would show it to you, but if I show you her go-go boots — which I totally had in second grade — I’m lopping off her head. And if I show you her head, no go-go boots. I had shiny black ones, too. Man, I loved those things. I was all kinds of Go-Go in Mrs. Krake’s class.

Also, Abby expects Maddie to know what the Frug and The Jerk are. The Frug is what you probably are with this dance — completely frugged — and the jerk is the one who expects you to know a 50-year-old dance.

Also, are the new interstitials of the girls dancing in slo-mo everyone’s favorite part of the show now, or is that just me?

While Maddie practices, JoJo, Travis and Aisha are also in the room, minding their own business.

Abby stops the go-go girl, and turns to the other one, requesting that JoJo to tell her what being a master teacher is. Seems JoJo and Jess booked a Master Class without Abby’s knowledge. And someone is a little sensitive about it. Just because — and these are Abby’s words, not mine — someone needs to make a quick buck because Daddy doesn’t make enough money, doesn’t mean they can call themselves a Master teacher.

Wow, Abby. Really?

Jess has had enough. She tells Abby that JoJo is not teaching the class, she’s taking it. And a master teacher is teaching the class. JoJo begins to tear up. I’m sure the attack on Dad wasn’t much fun to here atop everything else.

Travis to the rescue. “You’re kidding me, right?” he says, coming into the room. Telling JoJo she’s one of his favorites, he says she should brush off Abby’s teardown — she yells at everybody — and focus on JoJo. That’s the only thing that really counts.

Oh and one more thing. “Get a bigger bow, honey!” he laughs, following her back into the studio.
“I know, right?!” says JoJo.

While Abby continues to exorcise her need to Frug via Mack’s dance, her mother is telling the others that Maddie’s new video scored almost a million hits in one night. Oh! Wait! Sia just texted her! Hit a million! Hmmp!

Yes, but your other daughter … and besides, the comments the other mothers are seeing right here say stuff like boring and no dancing and ruining the child. That’s ten-year-olds, says Melissa. The real people who matter like it. Like Shia Lebeouf, who just texted Maddie. Way more important than the ten-year-olds.


Hear that, ten-year-olds? And mothers of ten-year-olds that idolize Mack and Maddie? Melissa lets grown men text her preteen. Oh, and also that’s what Maddie’s mother thinks of you. But head for iTunes and buy,  buy, buy right now! Your dollars are still important, no doubt.

While JoJo finally runs her solo, Jill helpfully — because our Jill is a helper — tells the other mothers that they are delusional if they think Abby expects anyone but Maddie to win. Jill. Sweet Jill. This is not news. This has not been news since Season 1, episode 1. But thank you for filling some time.

Travis runs another energetic group rehearsal then tells the girls that not everyone is going to have their best interests at heart , so they need to find balance between dance and just being true to themselves. He shares a story about Michael being so trusting, but also so hard on himself.

Abby seagulls him, taking Mack’s technique to task. He shoos her. Nicely.

Come competition time, Maddie says people might wonder while she’s still dancing with the team, but it is still her No. 1 priority. So that’s nice.

Maddie’s hair is Abby’s No. 1 priority. And it’s not poofy enough.

Why, Miz Abby, sharing is a very special thing. Yanking something off your own head and cramming it into the head of a child is … gross. Just ask the child.

JoJo goes first. Her dance is franticly paced and she seems a little overwhelmed by it, but JoJo always does her thing with style.


A swimsuited Mack goes next. Melissa makes this face.


The dance is almost entirely tumbling, but Mack is good at tumbling and she clearly hasn’t lost any of her skills set to neglect.

Abby says Mack was close to perfection.


Maddie goes next. Abby expects her to bring the house down.

Melissa makes this face.


Hmm. Why would you put a kid in Go-Go attire and have her do your basic shuffle-shuffle-tap-tap deal. It’s a perfectly serviceable shuffle-shuffle-tap-tap deal. But still. Wasted talent. Wasted costume.

And thanks to Lobotomy screener, here’s the best look I can give you at it.


Abby says she’s head and shoulders above everyone in the building.

In the get-ready, Holly and Jess take Abby to task for spending more time on Maddie’s solo than the other girls’. In an aside, Melissa says they’ve been with Abby since Maddie’s been three and Mackenzie two, so of course they rank higher.

Abby runs her tongue around her mouth as is her habit of late and says she cares about JoJo as a child. As a dancer. Eh. It’s a revolving door.

Here comes Papa T wondering why he can hear the children fussing all the way out in the hall. The hell, you people. Hush!


Ten minutes to showtime. Travis calls for a moment of thankfulness and unity, which is genuinely charming. Even Abby seems to feel it.

And what have we here? A dance that makes the most of everyone’s strengths? Like everyone, everyone? And then turns it up to 11?

The song just said they’re sick and sexy. Yes, Melissa. It did.


Dang. Girls. That. Was. Awesome. Stay, Travis. Do not leave me. *Attaches self mentally to Travis’ ankle.*

Results time.

JoJo gets third. Jessalyn says she was neither confident nor prepared.
Second goes to … insert lame attempt at dramatic tension since we all knew happened here weeks and weeks ago … Maddie!

Abby’s hand flies to her mouth. Melissa says oh, too, bad, poor Mack didn’t place. Oh, but she did. Meet your winner, people.


Mack beat Maddie. We can shut out the lights and go home. No? We can’t? Sure we can. Let’s try it.

No such luck.

Abby says good for Mack, because people buy Mack’s records because they love her as a dancer. And by the way, she’s working on record number 2. Buy buy buy.

Beautiful Bizarre gets second. Seriously, competition people?! A Travis Payne dance — well danced — gets second? Someone send me the YouTube for what got first.

In the hallway, Melissa booboos her little winning chickadee, causing her second-place chickadee to get her feathers ruffled. “Mom,” Maddie snorts. “It’s just a stupid dance.”



Luckily, Travis shows up before she can give the editors anything else to work with. Because he is the coolest person in the whole wide world — DON’T LEAVE ME, TRAVIS! NOOOOOOO! — Mr. Payne says that second place lets us realize how much we enjoy first place, isn’t that right? That’s right.

And congrats, Little Winner.


I take back what I said about nothing more to work with. Hey, Melissa, how’s about you make it worse by getting pissy with Maddie and making Maddie worse pissy? And then telling Mack to shut up.

After Abby snags the girls to go celebrate Mack’s win, the mothers decide to help Melissa put her foot in her mouth. Hey Melissa! Do you think Mack shoulda beat Maddie? Melissa can’t say. Not a judge.


See?! I’m smiling! Neheheheheh … now shut up.

Aw c’mon, Melissa. Truth.

WE CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Well, I can’t, anyway. Melissa tears up and says Mackenzie looked like a seven-year-old on the stage. But Maddie. Maddie was fabulous.


Oh the travesty, lady. Your daughters placed first and second. In a freakin’ children’s dance competition. The results of this competition will have zero lasting impact. What you’re doing to your daughters with behavior like this? On television? Where Mack can relive it again and again and again? Bizarre. And not the least bit beautiful.

Let’s end on this, instead.

Next week on Dance Moms, it’s the return of lyrical. And Erin Babb. And slumber party!

So what say you, Dance Moms nation? Did Melissa and Abby reach new levels of nuts? Is Abby bating JC, Executive Producer Superstar? Are you proud of Mack? Do you love Travis as much as I do? Can we please keep Travis? What did you think of Beautiful Bizarre? Have at it in the comments section below.

New episodes of Dance Moms premiere Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.


    • Thanks for posting this video Izzy! Chloe was lovely, but my goodness, what a dreary song. Just MHO, of course.

  1. Great recap. Sums it up perfectly. Honestly, I liked Mack’s solo better than Maddie’s. Maddie was way too simple and seemed like someone just playing around. It was a tap routine that a 8 yr would do. Pretty bad IMO. I guess Meslutty was saying that a 8 yr old could beat Maddie since that is what Mack looked like and she won 1st! Other than comps made just for the show and producer paid judges, I can’t see how Maddie has as many 1st place award won even on the TV comps . I know that is she gets the wins to make the show go in the direction the producers want it. But do they not realize that many viewers know dance and know that Maddie is not a 1st place winner all the time. NO way. I have seen some amazing dancers and choreography on that show and frankly there are way too many that have just out danced her. But I get it…the show has to have a certain theme and that is Maddie the superstar and everyone else must try to be as good as her. So that is the theme for the dancers but really we aren’t that clueless about dance skills and techniques.

  2. I used to love watching Dance Moms, but I grew tired of Abby always putting Nia down and always putting Maddie on top. I was glad to read the comments that Mackenzie won. Abby is a bully. Something we are supposed to be educating our children about, however, it’s tolerated to the utmost on this show. You don’t have to have this type of show for people to watch. It’s going down hill and a lot of people are going to stop watching unless the format is changed. Start showing something positive and uplifting with the girls and their moms. And I don’t believe they win as many times as they do. If son, then there are some very bad dance studios out there.

    • I agree. I don’t think they win as much as what we always see. Imagine Maddie
      ‘s boring tap solo taking second place. I heard they film the show twice. One for DM and one for the main competition. There are some awesome dance studios out there.

    • I have watched 2 epis this season. The one before this one when I had thought Abby was not going to be in it. But wasn’t in too much so I continued to watch. I didn’t watch this one but I did see some videos after and some promos. I also watched the solos. I haven’t seen the group yet, but I hear many had the same thought as stated in the recap. Heard it was really good. Personally, I am sick of the Abby loves Maddie the star theme.

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About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.